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Honoring Volunteers of the Year

volunteer-of-the-year-honoreesAHC is deeply grateful to the volunteers who make such a difference to our students. This fall we celebrated our Volunteers of the Year and honored one individual (or group) from each of our primary groups of volunteers – After-School, Teen Tutoring and Student Volunteers.

“AHC is so fortunate to have hundreds of wonderful volunteers who work one-on-one with students who benefit greatly from their close attention and encouragement,” said Jennifer Endo, AHC’s Director of Resident Services. “Each of our Volunteers of the Year have gone above and beyond. Their commitment and enthusiasm is inspiring and has made such a difference to students’ overall success.”

AHC’s 2015 honorees are:

After-School Volunteer: Marilyn Jenkinson

Marilyn Jenkinson volunteered at Woodbury Park/Frederick community center and added a special spark to the curriculum by sharing her personal interests. An avid traveler, she brought students treasures from her trips like Florida oranges, and created her own lesson plan to teach students how to read maps. She developed a scavenger hunt and taught the students how to use rulers to find their schools and other local landmarks.  She thoroughly enjoyed the students’ enthusiasm and said she “wished every child in Arlington could have the opportunity to experience an after-school program like AHC’s.”

Student Volunteer: Talia Farrell-Rosen

Talia Farrell-Rosen, a high school senior, volunteered weekly at Gates of Ballston during the school year, helping with activities and homework. “Talia was consistently patient and understanding and has been a wonderful addition to our volunteering team,” said Lotus Chen, AHC Resident Services Manager. Talia also shared a distinctive skill with the students – dancing. As a competitive dancer, she taught the children about different types of dance, the types of shoes and costumes they wear, as well as stretches and dances. She also gave them the opportunity to free-dance to pop music, which they loved.

Teen Tutoring Volunteers: Team Estephani – Anne Blacksten, Jim and Terry Burridge and Carl Dohrman

Estephani Santander graduated from high school last spring with multiple scholarships and credits her “dream team” of tutors for much of her success. Estephani’s group of dedicated tutors includes Anne Blacksten, who has worked with Estephani since 6th grade; Jim and Terry Burridge, who tutored and mentored Estephani throughout her high school career; and Carl Dohrman, the math guru of the group. The tutors in “Team Estephani” worked together to build consistency and maximize their support for Estephani. “I think the students benefit a lot from so much one-on-one assistance from caring, high-quality tutors,” says Mr. Dohrman. The consistency helps to build relationships between volunteers and students, which can be key to making a difference in the student’s attitudes towards school.”

Photo caption: From left to right: Patti Sanner, AHC Reading Specialist; Talia Farrell-Rosen, volunteer; Terry Burridge, volunteer; Carl Dohrman, volunteer; Jim Burridge, volunteer; Becky Koons, AHC Resident Services Manager; Anne Blacksten, volunteer; Elizabeth Bonner, former AHC Resident Services Manager; and Marilyn Jenkinson, volunteer.   

 

 

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Banner Year for AHC Students

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(August 15, 2015 – Arlington, VA) – AHC students had a banner year in all three of our education programs –  Teen Tutoring, After-School for elementary students and Summer Camp.

In the Teen Tutoring program, all nine of the seniors  graduated from high school and, impressively, they are all planning to go to college. Together, they earned nearly $50,000 in scholarships and grants. This marks the seventh year in a row that all of the seniors in AHC’s Teen Program successfully graduated from high school. To date, AHC has helped nearly 70 teens graduate from high school.

Many achieved this milestone while holding down jobs, overseeing younger siblings, or becoming proficient in English, a language not always spoken at home. Their hopes and dreams are impressive. Students’ goals include studying forensic science, engineering, behavioral science, medicine, and teaching. “We are so proud of all of teens,” said Jennifer Endo, AHC’s Director of Resident Services. “It really does take a village; and our village of wonderful volunteers, mentors, staff and teachers have all played a part in helping these young people reach their potential.”

The Teen Program is designed to help middle and high school students stay in school and maximize their options after high school. The program includes one-on-one tutoring, mentoring, college visits, SAT test prep, help with scholarship and financial aid applications, and a variety of enriching experiences. Sixty-four youth participated in the Teen Program during the 2014/2015 school year.

AHC’s After-School Program, which focuses on building elementary students’ literacy skills, included 115 youth in 2014/2015. Students made impressive strides. Nearly all (96%) of the students who were assessed at the beginning and end of the year improved their reading level by at least one full grade and/or are reading at or above grade level.

To help ensure struggling readers don’t get left behind, AHC employs two reading specialists to work one-on-one for 30 minutes each week with students who are not reading at grade level. The individualized program  includes games and activities that build fluency and comprehension. The personalized approach has been a real success. This year, our specialists worked with 28 struggling readers. Thanks to their help, all of the students made at least a year’s worth of progress, and six children advanced more than a year.

Students in AHC’s Summer Camp program also made strides. Research shows that low-income students can lose more than two months of reading and math skills during the summer. AHC’s Summer Camp, which combines learning and fun, aims to prevent that learning loss. The six-week program is making a difference.

During the 2014 camp, 92% of the students tested showed no loss or some gain in reading levels and 83% maintained math skills. This year’s theme, Careers in the Arts, combines technology and performance opportunities with creative activities, lots of learning  and cultural experiences like field trips.

Along with students’ hard work, our hundreds of volunteers are integral to the program’s success. We are grateful to the many volunteers and more than 30 community partners who generously give their time and effort. Last year, 266 volunteers worked 4,537 hours with our students!

Two long-time tutors are making a particularly generous impact on our students. In 2013, Joanna Miller and Roger Brown started a four-year scholarship exclusively for AHC Teen Tutoring participants. This year’s scholarship was awarded to Estefani Santander. The Wakefield graduate, who has been in AHC’s education program for 10 years, hopes to attend Northern Virginia Community College to study education. For more information on how to contribute to the Joy Rambert AHC Inc. scholarship to benefit our hard-working graduates, visit the Arlington Community Foundation website.

For more details on AHC’s education programs and student activities, click here for the Resident Services 2014-2015 Report Card.

Photo left to right: Angel Lara, center, with AHC staff members Elizabeth Bonner (left) and Triny Lemus (right) has been in AHC’s education programs since 3rd grade. Angel graduated in 2015 and is planning to attend Northern Virginia Community College to study Photography and Forensic Science. 

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Tutor’s Dedication + Student’s Determination = Success

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Israel Weldeslassie only began speaking English about a year ago when he moved to Arlington from Eritrea. Despite having to learn a new language and reading at about a first grade level, the 7th grader is making amazing progress and is enthusiastically optimistic about his new life.  Much of his success is due to his AHC tutor, Steven Rentz.

The pair has formed a fast friendship. Steven works with Israel twice a week through AHC’s Teen Tutoring program and then meets with him for another two hours on Saturday.  “Steven is making a huge difference to Israel’s progress,” said Julie Korona, AHC’s Resident Services Manager. “He is outstanding!”

“Volunteering is in my blood,” explained Steven, an instructional technology specialist at the National Cathedral School. “I chose AHC’s program because it’s small and everyone can interact and get involved. I really like the opportunity to work one on one.”

Israel is catching on quickly. He is gobbling up books like Curious George and clearly enjoys the nuances of the English language. He has big ambitions and would like to be an engineer and build houses when he grows up. His determination along with Steven’s dedication will undoubtedly help make that dream come true.

 Photo: Israel and his tutor Steven Rentz have formed a fast friendship.

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Volunteers Create Scholarship for AHC Students

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Long-time (11 years!) volunteers Joanna Miller and Roger Brown have created a scholarship exclusively for AHC students in 2014. They presented the first-ever merit scholarship  to Sivia Campos, who has participated in AHC’s education programs since 2nd grade. Sivia is now attending the University of Mary Washington.

The scholarship fund, which is managed by the Arlington Community Foundation, provides $2,000 a year for four years to a student in AHC’s educational program. “We felt like we wanted to do something else to help the students as they reach this milestone and move on to the next stage of their lives,” said Miller.

Brown and Miller hope others will contribute to the fund to provide additional scholarships in the years ahead. For more information, contact the Arlington Community Foundation at 703-243-4785.

Photo: Joanna Miller and Roger Brown presented the first-ever AHC Inc. scholarship to Sivia Campos, who has participated in AHC’s programs since 2nd grade. 

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Summer Camp Keeps Children Active and Engaged

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It’s hard to say who has more fun during AHC’s six-week Summer Camp – the staff or the children.

AHC Resident Services staff are hard at work getting ready for this year’s Summer Camp. The theme is going to revolve around the arts, which will encourage lots of creativity and fun along with plenty of opportunities for engaging educational activities – the secret to AHC’s Summer Camp success.

Last year’s theme was Outdoor Exploration and the staff outdid themselves with wonderful field trips and activities.

The end-of-the-camp event, designed to give students a taste of camping and the outdoors, included a variety of activities that were brand new to most of our kids – like putting together a tent, roasting marshmallows, hiking, and trying to catch a fish.

There was lots of learning going on, too, during Summer Camp. But most of it was designed to be fun so students never felt like they were “in school.” For instance, one activity combined math, bowling and giant dice.

The children’s progress was very positive. Ninety-four percent of campers showed no loss in reading skills and 83 percent showed no loss in math facts. Plus, 100 percent of campers enjoyed learning how to cook and eat s’mores!

Photo: AHC’s Summer Camp makes learning fun